Bill Cubit

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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Wednesday, Dec. 18 reports that former Super Bowl champion head coach and current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden is open to hearing from the Texas athletic department about its football head coaching vacancy.

Could Jon Gruden have an interest in the Texas job? (Photo: Brian Blanco, AP)

Could Jon Gruden have an interest in the Texas job? (Photo: Brian Blanco, AP)

Our sources confirm that report is true. Texas’ interest in Gruden is unknown.

The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley reports that Charlie Strong would not be interested in the Texas job, but our sources indicate that’s not necessarily so.

On the record, Strong gave the typical “coach speak” response.

“I don’t even think about it,” he told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “I don’t even worry about it. I have a good job here. … The only thing I can control is what’s happening right here.”

There are lots of rumors that Arizona State head coach Todd Graham could be a backup candidate at Texas — despite a legal agreement AD Steve Patterson signed when he left Arizona State for Texas that he wouldn’t hire any ASU coaches.

The guess is the two sides could come up with some sort of compensation for Graham should the ‘Horns get that far. We doubt they do.

Ex-Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe told CBS Charlotte that he’d be interested in Army job.

“Absolutely, mainly because I love the academies,” Grobe said. “I spent eleven years at the Air Force Academy with Fisher DeBerry and those kids are in my heart. I have not talked to them, so whether that’s something they would want, it’s certainly something I’m interested in.”

Sources indicate former USC offensive coordinator Clay Helton has emerged as a very strong candidate to replace the fired Brent Pease at Florida. We’re told head coach Will Muschamp is getting a lot of “not interested” as he calls around.

The Newark Star-Ledger reports that Rutgers coach Kyle Flood filled one of the three vacancies on his staff today, naming 34-year coaching veteran Mitch Browning as the team’s new offensive line coach.

Arizona State announced Wednesday morning it has promoted offensive coordinator Mike Norvell to role of Deputy Head Coach.

Sources indicate Norvell had been a top target to be the new offensive coordinator at Florida.

Arkansas State is interviewing a whole slew of candidates, so nobody seems to know where the search will end. Sources indicate they feel really good about Arizona State’s Norvell and UNC’s Blake Anderson.’s Bruce Feldman reports that Red Wolves officials spoke to Butch Davis but that he was not interested.

New UConn head coach Bob Diaco confirmed to the Hartford Courant that only offensive line coach Mike Foley had been retained.

Mike Szvetitz of the Opelika-Auburn News reports that other than the initial terms of Auburn coach Gus Malzhan’s new contract extension, no other details have been finalized – including the buyout.

Arkansas coach Brett Bielema isn’t in any hurry to hire a defensive line coach to replace Charlie Partridge, who left to be the head coach at FAU.

“I have half a dozen names that have come across my desk in the last 48 hours that are very intriguing that I’m definitely researching,” he told “I probably won’t bring anybody in until after the first of the year.

“I might talk to about half a dozen guys by phone, kind of off the record, and see where it’s at.”

Former Wake Forest defensive coordinator Brian Knorr joined the Air Force coaching staff on a retreat Tuesday and the is in talks to join the Falcons as a defensive assistant.

New Miami (Ohio) coach Chuck Martin has announced three additions to his coaching staff: Co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach George Barnett, co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Eric Koehler and tight ends coach Pat Welsh.

Barnett and Koehler were at Illinois State last season while Welsh was a GA at Notre Dame.

Illinois coach Tim Beckman announced that offensive coordinator Bill Cubit has agreed to a one-year contract extension that includes an increase in annual salary to $500,000 per year and keeps him on the Fighting Illini sideline through the 2015 season.

GigEm247 reports that Texas A&M co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Marcel Yates will be defensive coordinator on Bryan Harsin’s Boise State staff.

Yates has been part of Kevin Sumlin’s staff for two seasons. He played his college ball at Boise and was defensive backs at his alma mater for nine seasons from 2003-11.

New Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson announced on Monday that Kevin Higgins, the head coach at The Citadel, will be joining the Demon Deacon coaching staff.

Higgins will serve as the assistant head coach and will coach a yet to be determined position on offense.

“I am extremely excited that Kevin Higgins has accepted our offer to join our football staff at Wake Forest,” said Clawson. “Kevin has wealth of football knowledge gained as a head coach and also through his experience in the NFL as a quarterbacks and wide receivers coach. He will be a great addition to our staff.”

Higgins was a 99-83-1 record in 16 years as a head coach. He was the head coach for seven seasons at Lehigh from 1994-2000, leading the Mountain Hawks to 56-25-1 record and three appearances in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

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The Rumor Mill :: College Football Coaching News and Rumors – Wednesday, Nov. 20

Sources indicate the heat is rising on Illinois coach Tim Beckman.

Smiles have been been tough to come by lately for Nebraska's Bo Pelini and Illinois' Tim Beckman. (Photo: Nati Harnik, AP)

Smiles have been been tough to come by lately for Nebraska’s Bo Pelini and Illinois’ Tim Beckman. (Photo: Nati Harnik, AP)

Athletic director Mike Thomas has been noncommittal about his future. That was before Beckman almost came to blows with OC Bill Cubit on the sidelines Saturday.

Beckman is 5-17 in his second season at the helm. Thomas fired former coach Ron Zook after he led the Illini to back-to-back bowls. (Those Illini teams won back-to-back bowls for the first time in program history).

We’re hearing that Nebraska’s Bo Pelini is likely to be safe if the Huskers finish 9-3. That is, unless they give up 70 in the bowl game ( a la last year’s Big Ten title game).

Frank Solich was fired after going 9-3, but sources say current AD Shawn Eichorst probably isn’t likely to be as quick on the trigger as Steve Pederson.

Oklahoma State handed Mack Brown his worst home loss as Texas head coach on Saturday, beating the No. 24 Longhorns, 38-13. It was Brown’s eighth straight defeat against a ranked team at home.

The reality is that Brown likely needs to beat Texas Tech and Baylor (and have Baylor beat Oklahoma State). That scenario would give the Longhorns the Big 12 title and a BCS bowl berth.

Anything less than that and it’s probably over.

In an interview with Steve Hartman and Pat O’Brien, LA Daily News writer Scott Wolff says Ed Orgeron has a 50% chance of landing the USC job on a permanent basis. If the Trojans beat UCLA, that could increase to 75%.

Former Ole Miss Chancellor Robert Khayat says he’d give Orgeron another shot.

“If Mr. Haden asked me that question, given the performance, the 180-degree turnaround — if I’m the president or chancellor, I would recommend that we give him a shot at it,” Khayat said. “[Orgeron] knows what it’s like to be hired, fired, to win and lose.

“I’ve probably said more than I should — I should answer this as a hypothetical. But I would want to see him have the opportunity to be a head coach.”

There’s been some speculation privately – and now publicly – that FIU coach Ron Turner could leave on his own accord and head back to the NFL. Sources indicate there’s a growing movement to dump both him and athletic director Pete Garcia.

Southern Miss coach Todd Monken announced a change in the Golden Eagles coaching staff Tuesday afternoon. Graduate assistant Grant Garner will replace veteran assistant Pete Perot as offensive line coach for the final two games of the season.

Rhode Island head coach Joe Trainer has been released from the final year of his contract, athletic director Thorr Bjorn announced.

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Illinois AD noncommittal on Beckman's future

Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas was hoping for improvement in Tim Beckman’s second season as head coach.

Illinois coach Tim Beckman (Photo: John Beale, AP)It couldn’t get much worse than than the 2-10 2012 campaign, after all.

Following a 3-1 start, things looked promising. But five games — and five straight conference losses — later, the progress is a little murkier.

New offensive coordinator Bill Cubit has improved the offense. The Illini is scoring 29.7 points per game this season, good enough for eighth best in the league.

Problem is, an atrocious defense has gotten even worse, allowing 34.7 points per game this season vs. 32.7 in 2012.

The result is a 3-6 record and an 0-5 conference mark.

Illinois faces Ohio State at home on Saturday followed by a road trip to Purdue before the closing out the season at home against Northwestern.

Assuming a 1-2 finish, Beckman technically will have improved things from last season.

But is it enough to save his job?

“I’m not going to get into hypotheticals,” Thomas told the Chicago Sun-Times. “You ask the question, ‘Is the program developing and getting better?’ I think it is. I’m looking forward to continuing progress in the program.”

The Illini has lost a disturbing 19 straight conference games, tied for second-worst all time. Northwestern’s 38-straight conference losses between 1978-82 probably won’t ever be touched, but with Ohio State visiting Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Illinois owning second place outright is a virtual certainty.

If Illinois goes winless in its last three, things could get ugly in a hurry.

“Obviously, we don’t want the streak to become the focus,” Thomas said. “We want to get past it. That’s important to us.

“I think we need to start winning football games.”

Photo: John Beale, AP

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Former Michigan players among the names to watch for EMU head coach opening

Eastern Michigan coach Ron English was fired last week after audio of an expletive-filled locker room tirade went public, and AD Heather Lyke has said she would like to have a replacement for English in place by Christmas.

Detroit Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher (Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)

Detroit Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher (Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)

Whoever gets the job will have their work cut out for them. English went 11-46 in his five seasons at EMU, and the Eagles haven’t won a MAC championship since 1987.

One name to keep an eye on is current Detroit Cass Tech High head coach Thomas Wilcher.

Wilcher played running back at Michigan under Bo Schembechler from 1983-86, and has been the the head coach at Cass Tech for 16 seasons. His teams have won two straight state titles and will be going for a third this month.

Despite the program’s struggles, Wilcher says the EMU job looks appealing.

“You can win at Eastern Michigan,” he told the Detroit News. “Sure, you’re behind the eight ball since you’ve lost so many years, but you just have to have a change in attitude.”

Wilcher, a former Michigan running back, has developed tremendous talent at Cass Tech, including one of the premier players in the nation this year in defensive back Damon Webb, who has committed to Ohio State, and linebacker Deon Drake, a Michigan State commitment. Quarterback Jayru Campbell, a junior, has also committed to Michigan State.

The timing could be right for Wilcher to make a move out of the high school ranks.

“I have thought about it. Yes, I would be interested in coaching college,” he said. “I’ve been head coach here at Cass Tech for 16 years and love what I do, but there are times where I think I need a different challenge.

“I wouldn’t have to be a head coach either. I’d just want to be in a coaching job where I could help the program win.”

Another pair of former Michigan players are among those likely to receive consideration.

Former Wolverines running back Tyrone Wheatley, currently the running backs coach for the Buffalo Bills, and ex-Michigan quarterback Scot Loeffler, now offensive coordinator at Virginia Tech, are also thought to be potential candidates.

Wheatley has stated on numerous occasions that his goal was to come home and be a Division 1 head coach. He was asked by the Detroit News on Saturday if he was interested in the EMU opening, and his response was emphatic.

“Like I told you back in January, I would love to come home and be a head coach of a Division 1 college football program,” he said

Loeffler, who played quarterback at Michigan from 1993-96, started his career as a GA on Lloyd Carr’s 1997 national championship team.

Following brief stints at Central Michigan, with the Detroit Lions and at Florida, Loeffler was hired as offensive coordinator at Temple in 2011. He joined Gene Chizik’s staff at Auburn in 2012 before being fired with the rest of the staff at the end of the season.

Other names mentioned as possibilities for EMU include Wayne State head coach Paul Winters, Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin, Northern Iowa head coach Mark Farley, former Miami (Ohio) head coach Mike Haywood, and former Western Michigan coach and current Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit.

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The Coaching Wire: Saturday, March 9, 2013

A.J. Ricker has been officially named offensive line coach at Illinois. (WMU)

A.J. Ricker has been officially named offensive line coach at Illinois. (WMU)

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]llinois head coach Tim Beckman officially announced the hiring of A.J. Ricker as offensive line coach.

As we reported on Thursday, he replaces Jim Bridge, who left earlier this week to join Darrell Hazell’s Purdue staff.

Ricker is very familiar with Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit, having spent time under him as a player and coach.

Cubit was offensive coordinator at Missouri in 2000 and Ricker, a redshirt freshman, started all 13 games at center. Ricker went on to start 47 consecutive games for the Tigers between 2000-03 and was an All-Big 12 selection as a senior.

As head coach at Western Michigan, Cubit gave Ricker his start in coaching, hiring him as a graduate assistant in 2006. Ricker worked as a graduate assistant in 2006-07 and an offensive quality control assistant in 2008.

Two years later, Cubit hired Ricker as the Broncos’ offensive offensive line coach in 2012. He spent the past two seasons with the Broncos, before Cubit was fired in November after a 4-8 season.

Beckman hired Cubit as Illinois’ offensive coordinator in January. Ricker had been hired by Middle Tennessee State as tight ends and tackles coach in February.

“I’m very excited to be with Coach Beckman and back with Coach Cubit,” Ricker said in a statement. “I have a lot of respect for the way Coach Beckman coaches, having been in the MAC and coaching against him for two years.

“Coach Cubit coached me at Missouri and gave me a start as a coach by hiring me as a graduate assistant at Western Michigan. The man is a genius when it comes to offense.”

Ricker spent the 2009-10 seasons at Division II St. Joseph’s (Ind.). He was offensive line coach in 2009 and head coach in 2010.

Princeton adds two assistants; announces title and role changes

Bob Surace has added two new assistants at Princeton and announced a number of staff moves. Sean Gleeson has been hired to coach the Princeton running backs, while Trevor Powers will coach the outside linebackers.

Gleeson was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Fairleigh Dickinsonthe past two seasons. At Fairleigh Dickinson, he worked under head coach Brian Surace, Bob’s younger brother.

Powers spent the past two seasons at Rutgers, where he worked as a defensive quality control assistant with the linebackers. He also spent time working quality control for defense at New Hampshire, as well as a four-year stint as a defensive and special teams coach at Bowdoin.

Powers will work with both Jim Salgado and Steve Verbit, who will serve as do-defensive coordinators. He will coach the outside linebackers and Stephen Thomas will now serve as inside linebackers coach.

Eddy Morrissey, who has coached the offensive line the last three years, has added the title of assistant head coach, while Ryan Roeder will take over as special teams coordinator for Salgado.

Freeman joins Eastern Illinois staff

Dino Babers has hired veteran assistant Tom Freeman as an assistant on defense at Eastern Illinois. Freeman brings more than 30 years of coaching experience with him to the Panthers staff, and was an assistant at Hawaii when Babers played there. The two later coached together at Arizona State, Purdue and Pittsburgh. Most recently, Freeman served as offensive line coach for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of theCFL in 2010.

Masella adds offensive coordinator duties at Wagner

Assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach Tom Masella will take on the offensive coordinator role at Wagner. Masella began his coaching career at Wager in 1981, and had stints at Fairfield, Boston University, Central Connecticut and Fordham before returning to the Seahawks’ staff last fall. Jason Houghtaling, last season’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, is now offensive coordinator at Cornell. Ben Martin, a former Princeton assistant and Texas A&M quality control staff member, was hired as offensive line coach earlier this week.

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A.J. Ricker will be Illinois' offensive line coach

A.J. Ricker

[dropcap]A[/dropcap].J. Ricker will be named offensive line coach at Illinois, sources confirm.

Ricker, who was Bill Cubit’s offensive line coach at Western Michigan, had been hired by Middle Tennessee State as tight ends and tackles coach in February.

He replaces Jim Bridge, who left earlier this week to join Darrell Hazell’s Purdue staff.

Ricker spent the past two seasons working under Cubit, who was fired after the Broncos finished 2012 with a 4-8 record. Tim Beckman hired Cubit as Illinois’ offensive coordinator in January.

A native of Klein, Texas, Ricker played center at Missouri from 2000-03. He holds the school record for consecutive starts with 47, and was a first-team All-Big 12 selection in 2003.

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Bridge named Illinois OL coach

Jim Bridge will join Tim Beckman's (above) staff at Illinois. (Photo: Seth Perlman/AP Photo)

Jim Bridge will join Tim Beckman’s (above) staff at Illinois. (Photo: Seth Perlman/AP Photo)

Jim Bridge will be the new offensive line coach at Illinois.

Bridge has been at N.C. State the past six seasons. He coached tight ends there from 2007-10 and moved to the offensive line in 2011-12 when Tom O’Brien was dismissed. Bridge followed O’Brien from Boston College, where he coached tight ends from 2003-06.

Bridge coached with Illinois head coach Tim Beckman on Urban Meyer’s staff at Bowling Green in 2000, as Bridge coached tight ends and Beckman served as defensive coordinator. He replaces Luke Butkus, who left the Illini for Florida International after just one season. Bridge joins an offensive staff now led by coordinator Bill Cubit, who replaced the ousted Chris Beatty.

“Illinois is a great fit for me, personally, and Coach Beckman has assembled an outstanding staff,” Bridge said in a prepared statement. “As a coach, you always look forward to competing in a premier conference like the Big Ten and at one of the nation’s great academic institutions such as the University Illinois.

“I can’t wait to get started with the members of our team and especially our offensive linemen.”

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